Engineer gadgets obsolescence

The ghosts of computing past

I have a large plastic box with a lid (you know the type you can buy from the local DIY ‘shed’ or independent hardware store) filled with various cables, adapters, a backup ADSL router, an old US Robotics dial up modem that connects via good ol’ RS-232, and — most interestingly of all, I think — two Iomega zip drives (a 100 MB drive that connects via parallel, and a 750 MB USB drive).

Along with the goodies mentioned, I also have an opened box of 100 MB disks and an unopened still-in-shrink-wrap box of 750 MB disks. At the time I bought these disks USB flash sticks weren’t so prevalent and neither was broadband. I bought them as a backup solution for the Pentium 166 PC I had at the time but never really got round to setting up a backup procedure. And y the time I retired that machine I had USB sticks bigger than its hard drive (a whopping 2.1 GB) so data transfer was no problem.

So I feel I am holding an important bit of computing history in my hands, but I am also wondering what is best to do with the Iomega zip drives considering that the company is apparently no more and that these days the drives only appear on eBay.

All suggestions welcome, and I’ll get the camera out tomorrow and add a picture.

6 replies on “The ghosts of computing past”

The National Museum of Computing – TNMOC – is the place to contact. Well worth a visit. It was or was not connected with Bletchley Park, but there is a bit of an issue there at the moment, which is disappointing to say the least.

I also have a US Robotics modem which is probably due for a visit to the electrical skip at the local tip. A few years ago I discovered I went to school with one of the people who founded the company, sadly no longer with us.

Alternatively there’s the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge. They might be interested in the drives and they’re definitely worth a visit 🙂 Leicester and Swindon also have a computer museum…

My dad used to work on flight simulators for the RAF in the late 70s/early 80s. They’d have these huge rooms full of computers, I think there were three for the Nimrod sim. He told me recently that all of those rooms held less computing power than an iPhone. Amazing.

I think the equivalent box in my loft runs to some 8″ hard sectored floppies, a few dozen 180K a side 3″ flippies (yes, you turned them over to get another 180K) and some of my not-PhD detritus files on mag tape which date back to 1976.

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